DALLAS (AP) — Ben Hicks threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns and SMU beat No. 17 Houston 45-31 on Saturday night, the second time in three years the Mustangs upset a ranked Cougars team.
The Mustangs (4-5, 3-2 American) never trailed, jumping out to a 17-0 lead after Hicks threw his second TD, a 17-yarder to Tyler Page less than a minute into the second quarter. Houston played its first game as a ranked team under second-year coach Major Applewhite.
Hicks threw three touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in the shocker two years ago, when SMU beat the then-No. 11 Cougars 38-16 and knocked them all of the way out of the poll.
After Houston (7-2, 4-1, No. 17 CFP) got to 38-31 on quarterback D’Eriq King’s 3-yard touchdown run with 9:34 left, the Mustangs went on a time-consuming 13-play drive that ended with Ke’Mon Freeman’s second touchdown run, an 8-yarder with 2:43 left. That drive was interrupted for about 90 minutes because of lightning and heavy rain.
Freeman ran 20 times for 107 yards.
The Cougars were held to 365 total yards, 205 below their national-leading 571 average coming into the game. They failed to reach 40 points for the first time this season, ending their nation’s longest active streak at eight games.
King did have at least two passing TDs and a rushing score for the ninth straight game, the longest such streak for an FBS player in the last 20 years. But he ran 12 times for only 31 yards and was 11 of 22 passing for 175 yards.
Hicks completed 28 of 43 passes. Justin Guy-Robinson (134 yards) and James Proche (90 yards) both had nine catches.
Houston played its second consecutive game without standout defensive tackle Ed Oliver because of a bruised right knee. The 6-foot-3, 292-pounder, who is expected to be a high NFL draft pick, went through pregame warmups but didn’t play.
Houston: While their five-game winning streak was snapped, the Cougars still control their own destiny for winning the West Division and getting to the American Athletic Conference championship game. After allowing only five sacks in the first eight games, King was sacked four times by the Mustangs.
SMU: Since starting 0-3 in coach Sonny Dykes’ first season, the Mustangs have won four of six. The losses in that span are to still-undefeated UCF and in overtime to one-loss Cincinnati. Hicks has thrown for at least 291 yards in the past three games, since returning to the starting role after true freshman William Brown started three games in a row.
A week after the Cougars went from unranked to 17th, they could conceivably be unranked again. If they stay in the new Top 25 on Sunday, it will in the bottom couple of spots.
Houston is home against Temple next Saturday.
SMU hits the road to play UConn next Saturday.